5 stars · series · young adult

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo; amazing, astounding, astonishing

22299763

Crooked Kingdom

Six of Crows #2

author : leigh bardugo

pages : [hardcover] 536

memorable quote :

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together.

favorite character : matthias

summary :

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

review :

I’ve avoided reviewing this book, probably because reflecting on it reminds me that it’s one of the most painful stories I’ve read. Beautifully written, wonderfully executed, and the kind of book that makes me cry so much I kind of resent it.

If you haven’t read Six of Crows, you absolutely need to. Not only because it’s book one in this duology, it’ll be one of the best books you’ve ever read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, or inventive new worlds, or great character novels, or heist schemes, you’ll love this book. Then you’ll crave more of it. These books are incredibly hefty–basically, the length of four books compiled into two. I think the duology option was incredibly smart because there’s no room for “middle book syndrome” here. Just nonstop action. And heartbreak.

I still can’t think of Crooked Kingdom without being filled with a curious mixture of happiness and devastation. It worked for me perfectly, and ensured this duology will remain as one of my favorite reads.

But, you know. No spoilers.

Crooked Kingdom picks up just where Six of Crows left off, introducing even more characters (and a few familiar faces for fans of the original Grisha trilogy. I might have squealed). The plot is so intricate. Kaz Brecker, one of the main characters, is truly a master of twisting things toward his will. Often in painful and unexpected ways–painful for his enemies, of course, not always the reader.

Matthias has always been my favorite. But, honestly, all of the main characters are just very adorable–though I think all of them would kill anyone who called them such to their face, apart from maybe Wylan. I loved how this book delves more into everyone’s backstories. It explains so much, not only their actions from the books but their motivations throughout their entire lives.

The book ends, I believe, with a perfect balance. There is room left to expand and create more stories within the Grisha universe, but this particular story arc is complete. Not all ends of it are happy, but . . you’ll just have to read to find out what happens. Honestly, it’s such a wild ride that even a very detailed spoiler review would take pages and pages and pages to write. Leigh Bardugo is exceptionally talented at weaving these intricate plots together and I love it!

Read it. Please. And then you must discuss with me.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · series · young adult

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: chilling and amazing

28954189

Scythe

Arc of a Scythe #1

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 435

memorable quote :

“You have three hundred sixty-five days of immunity.” And then, looking him in the eye, said, “And I’ll be seeing you on day three hundred sixty-six.”

favorite character :  scythe faraday

summary :

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

review :

I’ve never met a Neal Shusterman novel I haven’t loved.

Honestly, he’s one of the best, most creative, most terrifying authors out there. His books will captivate you until the very end because you honestly cannot predict what will happen next. He’s the kind of author more than willing to kill off any character, so no one is safe–especially not in these worlds he builds. Which is a little ironic, because Scythe is in a way about a society of immortal people.

Imagine a world where people kill themselves for fun. You jump off of a building ten stories up and know in three or four days you’ll be fully healed–best of all, that first fix is free. Legally, they aren’t allowed to not bring you back. No one left in the world remembers a time when everyone born knew that they had only a certain amount of time left to live. Now, death is controlled by the Scythes. They are the only ones who can kill–or ‘glean’, as they call it to make it sound less like murder–and after they’ve chosen someone, they die for good. They’re really the only things to fear in this new world.

I loved this book. But it literally gave me nightmares. I’d stay up just to see how much I could read before I’d really have to get to sleep, and this is the kind of plot sure to give you an existential crisis. There’s some talk about what the point of life is when in the past, all of those people were going to die, anyway. But without death, or war, or hunger, or anything to struggle against, and with even nanites in their blood to keep them from feeling anything too strongly, there’s no art. No inspiration for it. People have all of these years and they just don’t know what to do with themselves in that time. It’s why Rowan and Citra are intrigued by the idea of becoming a scythe’s apprentice; it gives them each a purpose in life.

They each tell part of the story and  I loved hearing each of their voices. Essentially, they’re having the same life experience, but it impacts and twists them in completely different directions. Still, this is the one decision that will unite them forever, although they hadn’t known one another before the apprenticeship.

I don’t want to say anything more because I don’t want to give anything away. I mean, even in the summary of the book it says something that doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. This is the kind of novel you should dive into and just let yourself be immersed in the world and the characters.

It’s so good. I don’t think I can say that enough. Book two can’t come to me fast enough!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · fiction · series · young adult

Wires and Nerve was everything I needed in a graphic novel

29772863

Wires and Nerve

Volume 1

author : marissa meyer

illustrator : doug holgate

pages : [hardcover] 240

favorite character : wolf (always)

memorable quote :

“I misread the romantic tension, Didn’t I?”

summary :

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

review :

How could I not love a graphic novel that continues one of my favorite book series? Especially because it means one of my favorite characters, Iko, is going to get her very own happy ending–well, probably. This is only volume one, so who knows what adventures could happen next!

The only thing I hated about this volume was how quickly I finished it, and how long I know I’ll need to wait until volume two.

Let’s talk about the artwork first. I’ve avoided graphic novel adaptations in the past because the images never quite line up with what I’ve had in my mind while I’m reading. The same is true for Wires and Nerve, because most of the character designs weren’t quite what I’ve had in mind. Still, maybe because it’s an extension of the series, it was easier to separate in my mind that this is Iko’s story, and everything else was it’s own entity. What kind of cemented it for me is that the characters still act and talk the way they have in the previous books, so even without the bulk of text that comes with a novel it was easy to feel the characters’ personalities shine through.

This volume made me excited for the series to come because it shows how the world has remained imperfect after Winter. There’s a natural progression in the plot, something for Iko to overcome, and some opportunities for romantic feelings in the future. I absolutely love that Wires and Nerve didn’t focus on any specific relationship with Iko because she’s never really had the chance to be the center of attention before. I’ve loved seeing what her dreams and motivations are–and how much of a badass she is. Iko can really shine and I’m waiting to read more about her!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · series

Marvel-ous Mondays: “Civil War” was so stressful

91714

Civil War

author : mark millar

artist : steve mcniven

pages : [paperback] 208

favorite character : captain america

summary :

The landscape of the Marvel Universe is changing, and it’s time to choose: Whose side are you on? A conflict has been brewing from more than a year, threatening to pit friend against friend, brother against brother – and all it will take is a single misstep to cost thousands their lives and ignite the fuse.

Collecting Civil War #1-7.

review :

I can’t remember the last time that I was so stressed out reading a comic.

I mean, sure–I’ve seen the Civil War movie and loved it, but didn’t know how different it would be from the comic world. This was a much more intense version I think just because the comic could include so many more characters and concepts that wouldn’t have worked in the movie. Of course, it was slightly confusing to me because I didn’t know who some of the heroes were, but for the most part that was fine. I mean, who doesn’t know who Captain America and Iron Man are?

Captain America is one of my favorite heroes, which automatically made me want to take his side. I definitely did in the movie. This comic succeeded in making me see both sides of the argument more clearly and really stressed me when I thought that there was really no clean answer to the disagreement. Superheroes being registered and working for the government would probably keep less civilians in danger, make sure that there was less property damage, and generally keep people from getting too angry over the actions of these heroes. On the other hand, knowing their identities would put the heroes’ families in danger, it would take away their freedom, and as we’ve seen all too often in the Marvel universe when you have someone else telling you who the bad guys are, things can get corrupt real fast.

I flew through this volume because there was so much going on. Plot twists, trying to determine who would take what side. Also, surprising, I really liked Spiderman in this. For some reason I just haven’t been able to really get into him, but his role in this storyline was really interesting and I felt like it did a lot to show me who he is as a character.

I’d definitely recommend this volume. It’s fun. It’s different from anything that I’ve read so far. If you’re looking for action and suspense, you definitely need look no further.

5/5 stars

 

3 stars · science fiction · series

Rocket Girl was a very interested if cliched graphic novel

22073314

Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Squared

author : brandon montclare

artist: amy reeder

pages : [paperback] 120

favorite character : annie

summary :

The NYTPD sent her to 1986 New York City to investigate the Quintum Mechanics megacorporation for Crimes Against Time. Piecing together the clues, Dayoung Johansson discovers the “Future” she calls home–a high-tech alternate reality version of 2013–shouldn’t exist at all!

review :

I picked this volume up from the library because the concept seemed pretty interesting. Even though it’s based on a few science fiction tropes (traveling back in time to save the future, corrupt government, companies taking over seemingly the entire future) there were some interesting and unique concepts in here.

Rocket Girl, aka DaYoung Johansson, is sent back to 1986. Nevermind the amount of technological advances that would have to happen between then and 2013 to not only make this tech but DaYoung’s future possible, it’s interesting. She’s a police officer? For some reason the NYPD decided that teenagers are more trustworthy (a terrible idea, really) and that they should really run the show when it comes to cops. Once you’re 20, you bounce out of the New York Teen Police Department and basically aim for a job in private security. Nothing bad could come of that, right?

It was cool to have the comic set in the 1980s. The hair, the fashion, the atmosphere of NYC. It’s all seen sort of from DaYoung’s perspective, as she zips around the city in her jetpack. The only thing is, for all of the metal commentary done by her (and there’s TONS of interior monologue) she never really comments on the past other than to go on about how there’s no wonder it’s a terrible place because all of the cops are old. It would have been fun to see her showing Annie (a scientist who houses her after DaYoung arrives in the past) future tech, or commenting on Annie’s wardrobe, or . . her reaction to any of this, really, because DaYoung had no prep whatsoever for going to the past. And being stuck there where she won’t even blend in.

To expand more on my thoughts about her interior monologues, there was too much of it for how little we get from it. I would need to read each set of pages twice, once for the actual dialogue of the scenes and again for all of the thoughts in her head because she’d only think a word per panel at some points. Bouncing back and forth between her thoughts and the actual action would have been way too confusing and I would have ended up missing a lot. In the end I was still frustrated because it really lifted me out of the story.

I did like that there were some twists that make me feel like these comics will be even better if these ideas are expanded upon in the future. Other people follow DaYoung to the past. DaYoung seems like she’s finally going to try to blend into society, which would be funny and show a lot about her version of 2013. There are a few other things that I’d prefer not to spoil, if you’re interested in reading this collection. Overall, there’s so much potential. It’s just off to a little bit of a rocky start.

3/5 stars

 

3 stars · science fiction · series

The Woods: The Arrow, a very gruesome and gory graphic novel

21412023

The Woods, Vol 1: The Arrow

author : james tynion iv & michael dialynas

pages : [paperback] 128

summary :

WHY WE LOVE IT: As fans of James Tynion IV’s work in the Batman universe (BATMAN ETERNAL, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS), we were eager to publish his first original comic series. THE WOODS gives us that same eerie, smalltown horror feel we get whenever we read a Stephen King novel.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: James Tynion IV is a former protege of BATMAN writer Scott Snyder, so you know he’s learned a lot about how to craft a compelling tale. If you’re fan of teen conspiracy comics like Morning Glories, Sheltered, and Revival, you’ll immediately be sucked into THE WOODS.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.

Collects issues 1 to 4 of the critically acclaimed series.

review :

I picked up this volume on a whim when I was browsing the graphic novel section of my library. The concept seemed interesting and I liked the way that the artwork is done, so I decided to give it a shot. While this wasn’t my favorite, there was definitely enough intrigue here to get my interest.

This at first reminded me of the Quarantine books, because it’s an isolated high school and kind of shows how teens will begin to build their own society (or crumble under the pressure) when they’re removed from everything they know and find familiar and are faced with a deadly situation. Except in this case, we also have the faculty and principal struggling to decide what to do with the student body now that the entire high school has somehow been transported to an alien moon. As can be expected, nothing is going to go smoothly. Especially when the moon’s inhabitants are lethal.

While I liked the slow build to these issues, where a little more information is teased out in each chapter, there was never quite enough. I was still looking for the original thing that was going to happen here, what would make this series really stand out. I think that I’m still looking for it, even among all the high school drama and nightmarish creatures. Maybe a lot of it is the unnecessary gore? The shock factor wasn’t enough to really impress me.

I do like that there seems to be some kind of underlying conspiracy here that we’ll find out more about, eventually. I know that there are at least four more volumes to come after this, so I hope that the anticipation isn’t built up too much and that the revelations start coming. I’m intrigued enough to immediately reserve volume two, mostly because I’m hoping for more. Particularly because some of the main characters are being mysteriously vague and frustrating. And when the character who’s an asshole starts to seem to know more than anyone else, that’s when I have to begin to worry.

Overall, I liked this volume. It was a super quick read. But it wasn’t anything to rave over, and I’m hoping the next volumes really pick up the spooky conspiracy/alien atmosphere introduced here!

3/5 stars

 

4 stars · science fiction · series

Marvel-ous Monday: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1

20405500

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Complete Collection Volume 1

author : dan abnett, andy lanning

pages : [paperback] 296

favorite character : quasar

summary :

With the fabric of the universe torn, all that stands between us and invading horrors is a team of cosmic misfits. Led by Star-Lord, the newly-minted Guardians of the Galaxy include a who’s who of the mightiest -and most bizarre – protectors the stars have ever seen! Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Gamora, Adam Warlock, Mantis, the all-new Quasar, Cosmo the telepathic space dog and more take on the universe’s most dangerous menaces…and have fun while doing it! COLLECTING:GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2008) 1-12

review :

I really, really enjoyed this volume–though I have to admit that there were some parts of it that I was confused by because issue #5 was printed twice instead of issue #4 being printed in my copy. Obviously I can’t fault the authors for that, but suddenly it did make much more sense to me why some things were happening out of nowhere.

Anyway, because this volume my only previous experience with Guardians of the Galaxy had been through the film (which I’d enjoyed a lot more than I’d expected). So I already knew some of the characters. Some of this mixed batch of heroes I’d never heard of before. That’s why I loved the mission logs that were included in the first few issues. It helped me to keep track of what everyone’s names were, their abilities, and their background (whether they were human or Kree or some mix of like three different species). That helped to clarify a lot of the confusion I was worried would pop up. I mean, this is cosmic stuff. It’s bound to get a little confusing when space/time is erupting in random fissures.

There was a lot going on in this volume. The Guardians pick a name for themselves, just at the beginning of their journey, and then everything seems to fall apart. There are threats to the universe and threats to the Guardians themselves. Nothing can be dealt with smoothly because there are always too many problems to face all at once. But it never became a jumbled mess and I liked the direction the series took. I particularly liked how unpredictable it was. I never knew what was going to happen next to any of the characters.

Another thing that I liked was the surprising mix of female characters. It was still male dominated, but coming from my knowledge of the movie and MCU Gamora, I was surprised to keep having these awesome women popping up.

I’m already putting the next volume on hold so that I can pick it up ASAP–I’ll definitely be recommending these comics.

4/5 stars